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Despite Success, Campylobacter Remains Focus for Industry

by 5m Editor
12 June 2008, at 7:56a.m.

NEW ZEALAND - The poultry industry is continuing to maintain the confidence of New Zealanders in the quality of the chicken they eat.

The poultry industry is very pleased that its successful partnership with the New Zealand Food Safety Authority over the past 18 months had been recognised by the Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel. The comment was made at Fieldays by Michael Brooks, Poultry Industry Association Executive Director, and reported by Scoop.

Mr Brooks said, “The joint programme we have worked on with the Food Safety Authority has lifted our industry from a good mid-table performer to among the world leaders in preventing the occurrence and detection of campylobacter on raw chicken.”

He emphasised that the programme had brought about a complete review of processes from the farm to the retailers’ shelves and that the effectiveness of the programme has significantly contributed to the reductions in campylobacter cases and detection rates in raw products.

“We also believe our industry can contribute further improvements once we finalise arrangements with our retail customers to also carry out their packaging, and we continue to support the ongoing focus by the NZFSA and the Ministry of Health on safe food handling practices in the home,” he said.

Mr Brooks explained that while it was always difficult to pin down the exact causes of reported campylobacter cases, it was accepted that in the past chicken was one of the common causes of such infections, Scoop reports.

“However, the new standards set by the NZFSA and the enhanced farming, transport, processing and packaging processes we have worked on as an industry have contributed to significantly lower prevalence rates and bacteria counts on our raw chickens.

“Internationally, we are now getting requests from poultry industries in other countries to ask how we have been so successful in reducing campylobacter presence on our products.”

Mr Brooks said the 18-month programme developed by his members and the NZFSA had enhanced biosecurity and poultry handling practices on-farm to greatly reduce the potential for introduction of campylobacter infections to healthy bird populations.

“There has also been a real focus on the practices for catching, transporting and cleaning and drying of transport crates when birds are taken to the plants. This was an area identified as a key target to again reduce the possibility of cross-infection or the introduction of infections to healthy birds.

“The spin-chill process in plants was another focus, with some of members investing in new technology, and all our members reviewing and enhancing their cleaning, testing and monitoring regimes.”

Mr Brooks concluded by saying that with New Zealanders eating more than 34kg of chicken per head per year, the joint efforts of the NZFSA and the poultry industry should give consumers further confidence that they are eating a safe, nutritious, value-for-money protein source.

5m Editor